The United Auto Workers (UAW) will reconvene at the bargaining table on Saturday, following a day where union leaders joined picket lines at major Detroit auto manufacturers. This comes as two of the three big U.S. manufacturers have initiated layoffs due to the ongoing strike.
On Friday morning, the UAW officially commenced their strike after the expiration of contracts with Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis N.V. (STLA) on Thursday evening. Unlike previous strikes that targeted one company at a time, more than 12,000 UAW members are currently on strike across various locations, simultaneously impacting all three auto manufacturers.
The strike has led to work stoppages at GM's Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, Stellantis' Toledo, Ohio Jeep assembly complex, and specific departments at Ford's assembly plant in Michigan.
These planned layoffs highlight the unexpected consequences of targeted strikes within an interconnected industry. Shortages of parts in one plant can disrupt or completely halt production in other plants. Additionally, layoffs serve as a tactic for companies to exert pressure on the union.
Late on Friday, Ford and General Motors announced that they were considering laying off approximately 600 and 2,000 workers, respectively. It is important to note that these layoffs are not directly related to the striking departments, but rather secondary effects caused by the ongoing strike.
Ford disclosed that the layoffs would impact workers in the body construction and stamping departments of its Michigan assembly plant. Although these departments are not currently striking, they depend on components completed in striking departments.
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"Our production system is highly interconnected, which means the UAW's targeted strike strategy will have knock-on effects for facilities that aren't directly targeted for a work stoppage," stated a spokesperson from Ford.
GM Faces Layoffs at Kansas Plant Due to Wentzville Strike
GM (General Motors) expects that approximately 2,000 workers at its Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas could be idled as early as next week as a result of the strike at the Wentzville Assembly plant in Missouri.
According to a statement from the company, this is due to a shortage of critical stampings supplied by Wentzville's stamping operations to Fairfax. Unfortunately, the company is working under an expired agreement at Fairfax, which does not allow for company-provided SUB-pay in such circumstances.
Stellantis, the parent company of GM, hasn't announced any layoffs at this time and has not responded to requests for comment regarding the possibility of future layoffs.
The UAW (United Auto Workers) has also not immediately responded to requests for comment. However, President Shawn Fain addressed the potential layoffs during a press conference after a rally in Detroit on Friday.
Fain acknowledged that anything can happen during a strike and that it may affect other people down the line. He emphasized the union's efforts to plan for such situations but acknowledged the reality of strikes.
Heading into the bargaining session, there was a significant gap between the union's requests and the counteroffers from the car makers. Fain noted that the union initially sought a 40% increase over four years, among other benefits, while the latest offer from auto makers was a 20% wage increase. Benefit offers varied depending on the company.
Fain stated that when the union feels they have reached a satisfactory agreement that they can present to their members, they will do so. He expressed openness to potentially lowering the wage increase request to a range of 30%.
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